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The historic Benson Motel in downtown Benson

Benson is a a historic rail town of 5,400 people (2020) in Southeast Arizona. For visitors there is little of interest in the town, but it does offer a range of options for accommodation and as such can be a good base for exploring the region.

Understand[edit]

Map of Benson (Arizona)

Benson is is one of the few towns in the region which still has passenger rail service.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Replica of the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, now used as the Visitor Center

By train and bus[edit]

  • 1 Amtrak, 105 E 4th St. Served by two routes: the Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle. Nearby is a replica of the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, which is used as a visitor center.
  • 2 Greyhound, 618 S Village Loop (McDonald's off of Hwy 80), toll-free: +1 800-231-2222. As this just a pick-up and drop-off point, tickets should be purchased beforehand online or over the phone.

By car[edit]

I-10.svg Interstate 10 (I-10) is the main thoroughfare through Benson in an east/west direction with access from Tucson in the west and Lordsburg, New Mexico from the east. Benson is accessed from Exits 302 and 312 with Exits 304 and 306 leading directly into town.

Business Loop 10.svg to Arizona 80.svg 4th St serves as local "main street" access from Exits 304 to 306 of I-10, through downtown Benson. Going east from Exit 304 the road eventually curves south, past town, towards the Mexican border in Douglas as AZ-80 (Old US 80) through Bisbee and Tombstone. Fourth Avenue eventually goes east past the AZ-80 turn off and returns to I-10 at Exit 306.

Arizona 90.svg Arizona Highway 90 goes along the westside of town towards Sierra Vista via Huachuca City and Whetstone. From Huachuca, AZ-90 curves east towards AZ-80 north of Bisbee or continue on the same road past Sierra Vista as AZ-92 which curves directly into Bisbee at AZ-80. Local access into Benson on Red Chile Rd by Conchise College Benson Campus or if coming from south through Cooperative Rd. Both fork into W Janella Dr which winds into town in a series of roads.

Get around[edit]

Benson Area Transit (BAT) operates a "Fixed Deviated Route" service with bus stops throughout the City of Benson and Pomerene. Fixed route buses are wheelchair accessible.

See[edit]

Kartchner Caverns
San Pedro Valley Arts & Historical Society
  • 1 Kartchner Caverns State Park (9 miles S of Benson on Hwy 90), +1 520 586-2283. Mid-Dec - end of May: daily 8AM-6PM; June - mid-Dec: daily 9AM-5PM. A living limestone cave with beautiful speleothems. The park also has two scenic hiking trails (map available here), as well as a campground with water (see listing below). Reservations for the cave tour are required. Cave tour: $23 (adults), $13 (children 7-13), $5 (children under 7); park admission: $7 (car). Kartchner Caverns State Park (Q387762) on Wikidata Kartchner Caverns State Park on Wikipedia
  • 2 Gammons Gulch Movie Set and Museum, 331 W Rockspring Ln (off of Pomerene Rd, north of Benson), +1 520 212-2831, . Sep-May: W-Su 9AM-4PM, other times of year by appt. only. This is a working movie set so it is best to call before arrival, as the site is closed to visitors during filming. There is also a small onsite museum with movie memorabilia and antiques.
  • 3 San Pedro Valley Arts & Historical Society (Benson Historical Museum), 180 S San Pedro St (corner of 5th St), +1 520 586-3134, . Oct-Apr: M-F 10AM-4PM, Sa 10AM-2PM; May-Sep: Tu-Sa 10AM-2PM. A small museum with displays on local and regional history. There is also a small gift shop selling items made by local artisans.

Do[edit]

French Joe Canyon, Whetstone Mountains
  • 1 Benson Butterfield Rodeo, Arena Bar, 250 N Prickly Pear Ave, +1 520 586-9983, . An annual two-day rodeo held in mid-October.
  • Butterfield Overland Stage Days, +1 520 586-2842. An annual three-day event held in mid-October commemorating the Overland mail route of the US Post Office Pony Express. A horse is ridden with mail from Benson to Dragoon with special postage stamp cancellation. The event also features entertainment and food. Free.
  • 2 Whetstone Mountains. The Whetstones are known primarily as the backdrop for Kartchner Caverns, and for Mescal Springs, where Wyatt Earp shot and killed Curly Bill Brocius during the Earp Vendetta Ride in 1882. They have been noted for confirmed and extremely rare jaguar sightings. They offer a few challenging trails and climbing routes, as well as opportunities for birdwatching. This remote range does not receive many visitors, so hikers should take appropriate precautions. Whetstone Mountains (Q4019477) on Wikidata Whetstone Mountains on Wikipedia
    • 3 French Joe Canyon (S of Kartchner Caverns, turn W onto dirt road just before mileage marker 300). Named after an early prospector, this canyon has reliable springs and is a good location for avid birders. It makes for a very challenging hike, and a 4WD is necessary to get to the trailhead. A good trail description can be found here. Allow at least 5 hours. Free.
    • 4 Guindani Trail (#398). Hikers on this steep trail are rewarded with excellent views of the San Pedro Valley, with the Huachuca and Dragoon Mountains in the distance. Although the trail is almost entirely on National Forest Land, the trailhead is located within Kartcher Caverns State Park so an entrance fee is required. Allow 2½-3 hours. $7 (park admission).

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Singing Wind Bookshop, 700 W Singing Wind Rd (off of N Ocotillo Rd), +1 520 586-2425. Daily 9AM-5PM. Independent bookshop specializing in books on the region, with hard-to-find titles. The shop can be difficult to find; good directions are available here. No credit cards.

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Benson Donuts, 690 N Ocotillo Rd, +1 520 586-3966. Sa-Tu 8AM-9PM, W-F 6AM-9PM. Independent donut shop.
  • 2 Mi Casa Restaurant, 732 W 4th St (next to the Rock Shop), +1 520 245-0343. M-F 11AM-7PM. A very popular Mexican restaurant, unassuming from the outside but well worth the effort to seek out.
  • 3 Safeway, 599 W 4th St, +1 520 586-9094. Daily 6AM-midnight. Has a full-service deli and pharmacy.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

View of the Dragoon Mountains from Benson

Lodging[edit]

  • 1 Quality Inn Benson I-10 Exit 304, 699 N Ocotillo Rd, +1 520 586-3646, fax: +1 520-586-7035. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Free breakfast and wi-fi, pool, pets accepted. $87/night (Mar 2022).
  • 2 Comfort Inn, 630 S Village Loop, +1 520 586-8800, fax: +1 520-586-1370. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Free breakfast and wi-fi, nonsmoking, pool, pet-friendly. $89/night.
  • 3 Down by the River Bed and Breakfast, 2255 Efken Place, St David, +1 702-528-6169. Santa Fe-style lodging in a scenic location by the San Pedro River. $108-155/night.
  • 4 Quarter Horse RV & Motel, 800 W 4th St, +1 520 586-3371. Has only four rooms which fill up quickly.

Camping[edit]

  • 5 Benson KOA, 180 W Four Feathers Ln, +1 520 586-3977, toll-free: +1 800-562-6823, . Spots for tents and RVs, cabins available. Hookups and water at some sites, showers and pool on the grounds. Free wi-fi, pets accepted.
  • 6 Kartchner Caverns State Park, Hwy 90 (9 miles S of Benson, see listing above), +1 520-586-2283 (reservations). All sites have electric hookup and water; toilets and showers available. Suitable for RV hookups as well as tents. $25/night (cash or credit card).

Connect[edit]

  • 2 Benson Public Library, 300 S Huachuca St (on the corner of Huachuca and 6th Sts), +1 520 586-9535, . M Th 10AM-7PM, Tu W 10AM-6PM, F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-1PM, Su closed. Computers with internet access available, as well as free wi-fi in the building during opening hours.

Cope[edit]

Go next[edit]

Routes through Benson
Los AngelesTucson  W Amtrak Sunset Limited icon.pngAmtrak Texas Eagle icon.png E  LordsburgSan Antonio
PhoenixTucson  W I-10.svg E  WillcoxLas Cruces
END  N Arizona 80.svg S  TombstoneDouglas


This city travel guide to Benson is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.